‘We are targeting the illegal grows,” Says Tribe Chairman as Operation Yurok Restarts

operation yurok 2015 marijuana

Marijuana grow raided during Operation Yurok in 2015 [Photo from Yurok Tribe press release]

Press release from the Yurok Tribe:

Yesterday, a Yurok Public Safety Department and Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office-led team of more than 40 law enforcement officers started serving search warrants at massive marijuana farms that are devastating the environment in Yurok ancestral territory.

“We are targeting the illegal grows that pose the biggest threat to our community,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “We will not be idle, while these growers damage our natural resources, water supplies and way of life.”

This collaborative law enforcement action, involving the Tribal, state and federal officers, is part of Operation Yurok, an ongoing initiative, which aims to protect the people and natural resources within the Tribe’s aboriginal lands. The Operation is in its fourth year, and has resulted in the eradication of about 70 environmentally destructive marijuana farms, containing nearly 80,000 plants.

The clandestine cannabis industry has grown tremendously in the past five years. The increase in the number of big plantations adversely affects the Yurok people in several different ways. During the dry summer months, the marijuana growers unlawfully divert massive amounts of water from the streams that feed municipal and privately owned water delivery systems on the east side of Yurok Reservation. Salmon, a vital traditional food source for the Tribe, depend on the same streams for survival. Large amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, along with fertilizers and even human waste matter are common sights at the outsized cannabis operations. While collecting traditional foods and basket materials, many Tribal hunters and gatherers are fearful of coming into contact with armed growers, a scenario that has now become common. A recent rise in people made sick by Escherichia coli is likely linked to the underground marijuana market. Those participating in this black market economy are also strongly suspected of bringing hard drugs, such as heroin and methamphetamine, onto Tribal lands.

The east side of Yurok Reservation is located in one of the most rural and rugged parts of California. In this remote area, there is not enough funding for law enforcement to effectively police the sweeping forested lands.

Operation Yurok began in 2013 after residents living on the upper reservation nearly ran out of drinking water because of illegal water diversions from creeks that feed the Tribe’s and individual water systems. To initiate an adequate response to this crisis, the Yurok Tribe reached out to California Governor Jerry Brown to ask for assistance. Governor Brown sent members of the California National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force to help rein in the rampant water thefts and environmental damage caused by marijuana cultivation on Tribal lands. Other collaborating agencies
include: the Bureau of Indian Affairs, CA Fish and Wildlife, Del Norte Sheriff ’s Office, Water Quality Control Board and others.

Last year, law enforcement officers eradicated 55,000 growing plants, nearly 1 ton of marketable marijuana and one butane-based hash lab. The team of police officers encountered evidence of Mexican drug cartels at three different locations, where there were chemical containers with labels written in the Spanish language. Also in 2015, Yurok Public Safety Department officers, environmental staff and California Fish and Wildlife officers dismantled a half dozen makeshift dams that were diverting whole creeks to irrigate marijuana crops. In the days after the operation concluded, reservation residents reported seeing an obvious rise in the streams that feed into the Klamath River.

This year, the Tribe will for the first time be taking legal action against the growers for violations of the Cultural Resource Protection Ordinance, which is place to protect Tribal cultural properties. The clear cuts, water pollution and grading, associated with the grow sites, have the potential to harm cultural resources.

The Yurok Tribe is largest federally recognized tribe in California. The natural resource- based Tribe is best known for the implementation of leading-edge watershed restoration projects, language preservation program and cultural protection effort. The Tribe is a Zero Tolerance Ordinance, making all illicit drugs illegal on the Reservation.

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22 comments

  • Go Yurok Tribe! This makes me very happy to see! And you won’t see many Hups’s say that about Yuroks LOL

  • Well I guess they finally figured it out duh .the yurok tribe has been used a abused by the cartels.for about 15 yrs or more they get the local s hooked on meth and heroin and the alcohol for a chaser. So they can grow 50,000 plants clear cut leave all there garbage behind. I wonder if they would like it if we went to mexico and did that to there land. But kudos to the mendo sheriff at least they are busting the cartel s grows I doubt enept Downey will he is to scared or just lazy or both .bravo to the yurok tribe kik some cartels ass

    • This is Humboldt County Sheriff.

    • Sleepy Alligator

      Mogtx your comment is just a bunch of gobbledygook. You’ve combined two different stories about two different counties and then thrown in some Looneytoon ideas that you’ve conjured up from who knows where.

  • Yurok Tribal Member

    OPERATION YUROK has begun! More suicides to come! U don’t see wut u are doing to our people? It’s very clear where u are alloweOPERATION YUROK has begun! More suicides to come! U don’t see wut u are doing to our people? It’s very clear where u are allowed to grow medical cannabis people and economy’s are doing good. Down on the Rez our people are suffering, from the last three years of Operation Yurok, lies about pot growers sucking the river dry and pesticides killing salmon. Good propaganda to brainwash the people who don’t actually live out here and don’t know what is really going on. The truth about water diversions and the river being sucked dry is the multiple dams on the river. Diverting 3/4’s of the river to the Central Valley to GMO farms, not to mention the hay farmers in the scots valley! The truth about pesticides and environmental damage, can be laid on Simpson timber company now called “Green Diamond.” There is all this talk about pot growers using pesticides and Environmental damage, which maybe true for some but on a very small scale. Compared to the 700,000 acres that green diamond owns around all of our rivers, creeks and streams. Clear cutting, destroying wildlife habitat, spraying massive amounts of pesticides and herbicides “year round” with no regards to Mother Nature, animals, creeks, springs, and rivers. The replanting of millions of fir trees that are growing way to close together chocking out the forest so nothing can live in it. Not to mention those millions of fir trees sucking all the water from near by creeks and springs. And the hack and squirt (killing) of all our native trees, tan oak, Chinquapin, madrone, alder everything but there firs That they are planting. If u don’t believe me go on google earth, start at big lagoon and check out the maple creek drainage all the way up. That is just a fraction of what green diamond is doing. After you check that out you might change your mind about the evil “Pot Growers!”

    Back to the Rez, Suicides are off the charts, you are not allowed to grow, if you are a Native American on the Rez you are not allowed to have a 2:15 medical grow! but everyone else in the emerald triangle can. there are no jobs where our people live. Family’s who once were doing good had a job growing cannabis now do not, do to the tribes “zero tolerance” policy. More and more people resorting to cooking meth and heroin because that seems to be legal on the Rez. People are going around like zombies completely out of there minds and that seems to be okay with the tribe! Now if u have any cannabis in your yard they are bringing the military in like its Afghanistan. We have way more people then ever before, going around thieving, a lot more home invasions that u never here about because they are on the Rez. When is the fight against the Native Americans going to end! Wake up Yurok Tribe you are holding our people down!d to grow medical cannabis people and economy’s are doing good. Down on the Rez our people are suffering, from the last three years of Operation Yurok, lies about pot growers sucking the river dry and pesticides killing salmon. Good propaganda to brainwash the people who don’t actually live out here and don’t know what is really going on. The truth about water diversions and the river being sucked dry is the multiple dams on the river. Diverting 3/4’s of the river to the Central Valley to GMO farms, not to mention the hay farmers in the scots valley! The truth about pesticides and environmental damage, can be laid on Simpson timber company now called “Green Diamond.” There is all this talk about pot growers using pesticides and Environmental damage, which maybe true for some but on a very small scale. Compared to the 700,000 acres that green diamond owns around all of our rivers, creeks and streams. Clear cutting, destroying wildlife habitat, spraying massive amounts of pesticides and herbicides “year round” with no regards to Mother Nature, animals, creeks, springs, and rivers. The replanting of millions of fir trees that are growing way to close together chocking out the forest so nothing can live in it. Not to mention those millions of fir trees sucking all the water from near by creeks and springs. And the hack and squirt (killing) of all our native trees, tan oak, Chinquapin, madrone, alder everything but there firs That they are planting. If u don’t believe me go on google earth, start at big lagoon and check out the maple creek drainage all the way up. That is just a fraction of what green diamond is doing. After you check that out you might change your mind about the evil “Pot Growers!”

    Back to the Rez, Suicides are off the charts, you are not allowed to grow, if you are a Native American on the Rez you are not allowed to have a 2:15 medical grow! but everyone else in the emerald triangle can. there are no jobs where our people live. Family’s who once were doing good had a job growing cannabis now do not, do to the tribes “zero tolerance” policy. More and more people resorting to cooking meth and heroin because that seems to be legal on the Rez. People are going around like zombies completely out of there minds and that seems to be okay with the tribe! Now if u have any cannabis in your yard they are bringing the military in like its Afghanistan. We have way more people then ever before, going around thieving, a lot more home invasions that u never here about because they are on the Rez. When is the fight against the Native Americans going to end! Wake up Yurok Tribe you are holding our people down!

    • i wish people could see that everytime a big bad boogieman is put in front of us be it the Mexican cartel boogeyman or the water diverting evildoer small time pot growers the result is more violations of peoples rights such as what has been happening with operation yurok. the truth is that they are busting small grows and people well outside of the rez as well. it is not as they say that they are busting heroin smugglers or what ever other garabage they claim. humboldt sheriffs are violating even those people who are trying to go through the backed up permiting process and claiming no rights for anyone trying to come into compliance in the area,save those already approved. it is lies about water the way they have destroyed soo many water storage tanks and lines in the past wasting thousands of gallons of the water they claim to want to protect. i am not native but i can see how people on the rez are denied the right neighbors a few miles away are unimpeded and sweeping people outside the rez as well!! it is naive to consider the storming of peoples land under the umbrella of big bad cartel mega grows as a good when just down the road you could find people growing just as much or more in virtually the same conditions but simply up the road. this is garbage lies and propaganda about the cartel because,real as they might be, they do not represent most of the people in the area.

    • Time for a new tribal government, then? This is self-governance in action, right?

    • Leave then.

  • I am on the Honorable Chairman’s Sister’s side😎

  • Are there any legal grows out there??

    • Sleepy Alligator

      No such thing exist out there thanks to the Tribes “Zero Tolerance Ordinance”. They do not recognize 215 medical recommendations. They just insist on depriving their people of a chance to better their lives if they choose to.

  • Wasn’t there a grow last year that they bulldozed burial grounds to sleep alla gator .the bottom line is yes the cartels are getting busted in mendo and humboldt co .hoping that Downey does the same for our county ,but I doubt it .I so hope they or some agency federal or.county or state . Just go after the water stealing garbage leaving land raping cartels .

    • Sleepy Alligator

      There was at least one property last year where the Tribe bulldozed the greenhouse that had zero plants in it. If you want them to go after the water stealing cartels then shouldn’t they be over in California’s Central valley? From my point of view it’s big agriculture that’s the real water stealing cartel.

  • Yurok Tribal Member

    OPERATION YUROK has begun! More suicides to come! U don’t see wut u are doing to our people? It’s very clear where u are allowed to grow medical cannabis people and economy’s are doing good. Down on the Rez our people are suffering, from the last three years of Operation Yurok, lies about pot growers sucking the river dry and pesticides killing salmon. Good propaganda to brainwash the people who don’t actually live out here and don’t know what is really going on. The truth about water diversions and the river being sucked dry is the multiple dams on the river. Diverting 3/4’s of the river to the Central Valley to GMO farms, not to mention the hay farmers in the scots valley! The truth about pesticides and environmental damage, can be laid on Simpson timber company now called “Green Diamond.” There is all this talk about pot growers using pesticides and Environmental damage, which maybe true for some but on a very small scale. Compared to the 700,000 acres that green diamond owns around all of our rivers, creeks and streams. Clear cutting, destroying wildlife habitat, spraying massive amounts of pesticides and herbicides “year round” with no regards to Mother Nature, animals, creeks, springs, and rivers. The replanting of millions of fir trees that are growing way to close together chocking out the forest so nothing can live in it. Not to mention those millions of fir trees sucking all the water from near by creeks and springs. And the hack and squirt (killing) of all our native trees, tan oak, Chinquapin, madrone, alder everything but there firs That they are planting. If u don’t believe me go on google earth, start at big lagoon and check out the maple creek drainage all the way up. That is just a fraction of what green diamond is doing. After you check that out you might change your mind about the evil “Pot Growers!”

    Back to the Rez, Suicides are off the charts, you are not allowed to grow, if you are a Native American on the Rez you are not allowed to have a 2:15 medical grow! but everyone else in the emerald triangle can. there are no jobs where our people live. Family’s who once were doing good had a job growing cannabis now do not, do to the tribes “zero tolerance” policy. More and more people resorting to cooking meth and heroin because that seems to be legal on the Rez. People are going around like zombies completely out of there minds and that seems to be okay with the tribe! Now if u have any cannabis in your yard they are bringing the military in like its Afghanistan. We have way more people then ever before, going around thieving, a lot more home invasions that u never here about because they are on the Rez. When is the fight against the Native Americans going to end! Wake up Yurok Tribe you are holding our people down!d to grow medical cannabis people and economy’s are doing good. Down on the Rez our people are suffering, from the last three years of Operation Yurok, lies about pot growers sucking the river dry and pesticides killing salmon. Good propaganda to brainwash the people who don’t actually live out here and don’t know what is really going on. The truth about water diversions and the river being sucked dry is the multiple dams on the river. Diverting 3/4’s of the river to the Central Valley to GMO farms, not to mention the hay farmers in the scots valley! The truth about pesticides and environmental damage, can be laid on Simpson timber company now called “Green Diamond.” There is all this talk about pot growers using pesticides and Environmental damage, which maybe true for some but on a very small scale. Compared to the 700,000 acres that green diamond owns around all of our rivers, creeks and streams. Clear cutting, destroying wildlife habitat, spraying massive amounts of pesticides and herbicides “year round” with no regards to Mother Nature, animals, creeks, springs, and rivers. The replanting of millions of fir trees that are growing way to close together chocking out the forest so nothing can live in it. Not to mention those millions of fir trees sucking all the water from near by creeks and springs. And the hack and squirt (killing) of all our native trees, tan oak, Chinquapin, madrone, alder everything but there firs That they are planting. If u don’t believe me go on google earth, start at big lagoon and check out the maple creek drainage all the way up. That is just a fraction of what green diamond is doing. After you check that out you might change your mind about the evil “Pot Growers!”

    Back to the Rez, Suicides are off the charts, you are not allowed to grow, if you are a Native American on the Rez you are not allowed to have a 2:15 medical grow! but everyone else in the emerald triangle can. there are no jobs where our people live. Family’s who once were doing good had a job growing cannabis now do not, do to the tribes “zero tolerance” policy. More and more people resorting to cooking meth and heroin because that seems to be legal on the Rez. People are going around like zombies completely out of there minds and that seems to be okay with the tribe! Now if u have any cannabis in your yard they are bringing the military in like its Afghanistan. We have way more people then ever before, going around thieving, a lot more home invasions that u never here about because they are on the Rez. When is the fight against the Native Americans going to end! Wake up Yurok Tribe you are holding our people down!

  • Thank you for taking action. The Yurok Rez is approx 44 miles…grow elsewhere. Polute and drain resources if you must. Take accountability…only YOU hold yourself down.

  • I was eradicated today, I was on a private parcel off the reservation with 30 plants. I did not get arrested and they did not have a warrant. I did not sign up for the county program but am in a legal collective that has over 10,000 patients. My water comes from a permitted well so no water legality issues there. I am local meaning born and raised. I do not do drugs or drink alcohol. It is not perfect out here but it is home. I stand in solidarity with my fellow farmers on and off the reservation.

    • Does the tribe want this? Or does O’rouke want this? I thought he got voted out by the tribe.

      • Sleepy Alligator

        He got his position back once the Tribe realized the new chairman, who had won the election, had stabbed his own baby to death some years ago.

  • My friend paid 20000 to comply he was not on Rez and yet they still cut everything. I just wish that they wouldn’t lie to us about not cutting legal farms.

    • Sleepy Alligator

      Just like so many people out there in the world and many of my own friends, you just don’t seem to get it. Marijuana is still illegal in this country, in this state, and yes in this county. It’s amazing to me that so many people, especially growers, are that gullible. Any person that takes part in the marijuana industry who isn’t willing to go to jail for it should find a different occupation. Otherwise don’t be crying when the cuffs are on and don’t be so surprised when your friend pays the government $20,000 to come “eradicate” his “legal” garden. There is no such thing today.

  • Grifty mc grift

    Hypocrisy at its finest here… The us army is out there roughing compliant people up not to mention private security mercenaries. Side by side with tribal and county police, these agencies have all come together to violate our civil rights simply because they can. Police together with military is disturbing to say the least, and the private security people are even scarier because they make a business of violence and intimidation… They threatened to shoot my four month old puppy, on private land The cutest puppy ever… Next stop, babies… The klamath water mostly goes to central valley cropdust farms that give u cancer and timber production should be the target of the yuroks… But the business of fear and the perpetuation of a drug addicted welfare state has found a home in our remote corner of the state because california itself has made a business of locking people up… Next stop, fascism.

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